View Full Version : Event Attendance and Prize Funding--Catch 22?

03-06-2009, 04:24 PM
Is it my imagination, or are prize pools and team attendance declining at the same time?

There are some major events with long histories that seem to continue with large purses and team attendance.
They have a life of their own.
Others make it because they are some special qualifier or such.

But, it seems that a lot of newer and smaller events are declining in attendance rapidly.
They appear to have trouble with sponsorship money (understandably) and are therefore dramatically reducing their prize pool.
When the prize pool shrinks, the number of teams shrinks.
Then, the smaller number of teams causes further reductions in the prize pools at later events.

Of course, some teams have had to severly restrict their schedule due to personal ecomomic problems.

We have even had a couple of early event cancelations down here--apparently due to lack of confidence in their ability to cover a decent prize pool through sponsorship, team fees, and public attendance.

Also, many teams are like us and do not commit till shortly before the event due to the economic uncertainties. Organizers get cold feet with a low sign up rate early. At least I assume they do.

Catch 22. If they do not pay decent money, the teams will not come in large numbers. The fewer the teams, the less the prize money.
GOTCHA -- CATCH 22 :evil:

Down here, a lot of purses are at 60% or less of last year.

It costs us about $800-$1000 per event to compete down here.
I have no dreams of making even a nickle from BBQ, but I do need to have a reasonable chance of recovering about 50% or so (on average) to continue to fund this hobby. And, a reasonable chance is based on our cooking of quality BBQ and scoring in the top ranges on at least a couple of meats. If we cant do that, well, it is a lick on us and we need to eat the expense.

Last fall, we actually almost broke even in two events with a first, third, fourth, and fifth in catagory, and a fourth overall. About $1450 or so. They were paying $500 for first, $400 for second, $300 for third, $200 for fourth, and $100 for fifth. That really helped us survive.
That payout has been pretty much standard in the area.

Not so this year.

This year, we took Fifth in 2 meats at one event for $150 and a 4th in one meat for $75 at another. Total of $225. Under last years "normal" payouts, this would have been $400 or so and would have really made a difference.

Here is a typical payout at an event coming up this year. Even lower.
Entry fee--$250


Place Amount
1st Place $450.00
2nd Place $250.00
3rd Place $100.00
4th Place $50.00
5th Place $25.00
6th-10th Place Trophy

Grand Champion $1300.00
Reserve Champion $1100.00
3rd Place Overall $125.00
4th Place Overall $75.00
5th Place Overall $50.00

So, to have a reasonable chance of recovering even $400 or so, we would have to place at a level that would probably result in a GC or RGC. :twisted:
Fat chance of that with Bub-Ba-Que and Rub pounding on each other for the qualifier wins. :oops:

I know--a rambling post.
But, I just wish things would even out financially and we could get back to normal.

And, I admire any organizer that can put together a small event in these times.

Maybe petition the PREZ for a BBQ Bailout?

Just don't know.


03-06-2009, 05:12 PM
I pick up what yer putting down... its definitely a tough call Tim... we do the contests that we enjoy, but we also try to support as many contests in our area as possible... regardless of prize money. That is not to say that prize money isnt on the list of priorities, but it isn't very high up there, for us at least. And, if we do win something, it goes right back into the BBQ account anyway, to get us to another comp... and so on and so on and so on...

It does seem as though the entry fees are getting higher, the prize pools are staying about the same. This is based on my limited experience since 2003.

We run a pretty small grilling event (20 teams max) and so far we have been successful at keeping the entry fee low. The venue is donated, so that helps immensely. The GC and RGC get a little money for winning - plus trophies, and the 1st place's get at least their entry fee back plus a trophy. Mostly I think the teams just want to come out and cook, they know it isnt very lucrative even if they win the whole thing. But, I guess you get what you pay for. :>

It makes me kind of sad to see big prize money determining where teams go to cook, especially at the risk of losing the smaller events. In my naive mind, I guess I'd like to think that teams do it for the love of it, not the money.

sorry... another rambing post...

03-06-2009, 05:32 PM
I know what you are saying.

For me, I would love to compete in an event here in town where I could pay a hundred or so, cook some ribs or chicken or whatever, and just have fun. No matter how it falls out.

I am actually considering entering a local MIM event this year as an "amateur". I could do ribs really cheap and sleep in my own bed at night. But, I got some ethical problems with that :oops:

In FBA, we normally have entry fees of $250 or more--plus all the meat (etc) and driving big miles in the FBA area plus some sort of lodging and it is no longer a hobby that most of us can fund from spare change at home. :oops:

It has simply gotten big $$ to even be there and compete, and that is impacting those teams that are not "local'.

I am sure it will improve some day.


Big Tom
03-08-2009, 05:52 PM
There is really a paradox facing competition bbq teams and contests.

My cooking team has been forced to rethink participation in many favored events due to a member having some economy related job changes, fortunately he is still employed, plus I relocated last year and am now 300 miles from the home base.

Part of our decision process was what kind of prize pool and payouts does the contest offer and travel distance. We dont command big payouts, but want a chance for some decent money if we do well.

As the contests are loosing sponsor money and prizes are being affected, participation will also suffer from that as well as the personal effects of the present economic challenge.

Kapn, you don't have to cook the MBN event in amature, you can cook in the pro division and only cook one category. Their structure allows cooking only one category and still being able to contend for GC. To compete in ribs you can manage that with a case (30# / 15 racks of loin backs) of ribs. PM or email me if you would like more information about the MBN contest process.

03-08-2009, 07:45 PM
I like the way the TX events address the prize pot.... A Calcutta!
Smaller sub $100 entry fees, (of course sanctioning costs are different than KCBS) the prize pot is smaller, but they have a calcutta for the teams. pretty cool, and a nice way to work up a few more $$ in prize money for the big winners.

03-08-2009, 08:32 PM
A few of the guys here run small side bets or Calcuttas.But they didnt get to big at the few contests where we competed.
For us yet the prize money still isnt the defining point whether we enter or not.But for the teams entering a lot of contests I see where it makes a difference as when you start pounding the miles to enter 10 or more contest a year it adds up in a hurry.It would be nice to see bigger prize pots but in our area BBQ hasnt caught on the way it has in other parts of the country.And we lost a couple contests in Wi this year due to various reasons.Its got to be hard to justify advertising dollars on these contests for the corporations that are having a bad year.

03-08-2009, 08:59 PM
I like the way the TX events address the prize pot.... A Calcutta!
Smaller sub $100 entry fees, (of course sanctioning costs are different than KCBS) the prize pot is smaller, but they have a calcutta for the teams. pretty cool, and a nice way to work up a few more $$ in prize money for the big winners.

I agree the Calcutta's sure do make for some very interesting pots :-D

Do you think we can get one started in LR this weekend????

03-08-2009, 10:05 PM
I have thought about selling 100 chances at $100
Half to the winner of the cook off
half to the winner of the chance draw

03-08-2009, 11:04 PM
I was thinking about doing a 50/50 at willie palooza to help out

03-08-2009, 11:29 PM
I agree the Calcutta's sure do make for some very interesting pots :-D

Do you think we can get one started in LR this weekend????

We might be able to... but money is good enough there we dont need one :)

03-09-2009, 09:19 AM
While we are just starting out (this is our second year) I have to say that the money coming in is not as important as what we are paying out... at between $750 to $1,000 per contest, it's not easy in this economy to make it work out...

While this year I'm hoping that we'll do better, we are also realists in knowing that it can take a while to move toward the money. We are planning more contests than last year, we are also looking more closely at the ones we choose....